The Independence Masonic Fortitude Lodge No.107 invited Jerry Harrison Independence Police chief to their regular meeting to share with them the new K-9 program the IPD is investing in. Jerry Allison, Masonic member introduced Harrison while informing him the membership held a vote and voted to support the IPD and their  K-9 program with a monetary donation. "A formal presentation of a check will be at the Chamber of Commerce, June 7, First Friday at the Civic Center."  

The need for a specially trained police dog has increased drastically over the years, according to Harrison. The K-9 officer, Ty Pardus, IPD Field Training officer, will be the dog's handler and they are currently in training for the next 12 weeks.  

The dog IPD will be trained in several areas. "He will be trained in bite work, handler protection, drug detection, tracking, evidence recovery and building searches," Harrison said.    

Through the community, businesses and members of the IPD  donations, have been raised totaling $26,374. "As for expenses, the dog cost $10,000 which includes training for 10 to 12 weeks depending on the dog. This means the K-9 and his handler will be in Topeka for training. We will have expenses in providing a hotel room, meals while going through the training process," said Harrison. Other expenses include equipment and other regular training as well as upkeep. "Between the dog and training, we have invested at least $20,000. We have raised enough funds to train the dog and the handler, field the team and the specially equipped car," stated Harrison. There will be ongoing expenses which include special dog food, officer training, Harrison said he expected the annual budget to maintain the K-9 program will cost approximately $13,000. "The program is being funded through the asset forfeiture fund and through donations," he said. Harrison added, he hoped the ongoing support would not cost the estimated $13,000, however, by next year the police department will have to start funding the program through their budget.     

A member of the Masons stated it would be advantageous for other civic organizations to pledge their support to the K-9 program for ongoing support. "We could pledge an amount on a monthly or annual basis to help defray the cost of  the program," said Scott Null, Masonic member. Harrison stated the IPD's goal is to not use taxpayer money to fund the program. "After looking at what the community raised in the $26,000 that is a huge amount that didn't come from the tax base. That sends two messages to me. The people of Independence have said we have the IPD's back and they trust us and support us and they expect us to do something about the drug problem," Harrison said.  

“Most of the local Masons are either lifelong natives of Independence or have been in the area and involved with Masons for many years. We are a fraternity of like-minded individuals who want to see our community thrive and so we try to give something back by our labors or sometimes, such in the case of the K9 program, financially. A few projects that we are involved in or hope to be involved with in the near future include the Shrine Bowl Band Camp, we scholarship high school students to attend, free cancer screenings when we are awarded a spot and this year we are planning on helping with Clean Up Independence which is just a few weeks away. We are not a private or secret organization, any man that believes in God is welcome to petition the lodge for membership,” said Jeff Shaw, Master of the Independence Masonic Fortitude Lodge.